Category: Inspired

Inspired: IBM Watson

At their best explainer videos make abstract, complex concepts clear. That’s exactly what IBM’s Watson explainer video achieves. Even though 8 minutes seems dauntingly long for an explainer video these days, they pull it off. The visuals actually expand on the considered script so that, even my Mom could follow and understand which is precisely the point of a good explainer video.

Inspired: James Victore

It’s a bit of a different inspired this time, and not one directly to do with video. Instead it’s a designer who speaks directly to the ideas of working your creativity and finding your own voice; James Victore.

I’m not a designer. I don’t know if James Victore is a great designer but I do like his work. I discovered him because I stumbled into his session at AdobeMAX this year entitled How to Tap into Your Creative Voice and Make Work That Matters. What creative wouldn’t want to go to a presentation with that title?

The lecture was well worth attending and is worth your time too but it lead my to James’s video series, Burning Questions. In each five minute video he address a viewers question and, although these are designer-centric questions, the issues are those all creatives face: inspiration, doubt, motivation, etc. These short, informal videos are like having a personal mentor on tap. He’s talking directly to you about questions you probably have. I’ve been working my way through them and I’m finding them incredibly inspiring. I hope you will too. Click for more

Inspired: Epic Basketball + Car Beat


Oh to have the energy and creativity of youth again! Buick are not know for their innovative cars but here they show that they at least know how to take advantage of younger filmmakers to make a successful video that prominently features their car. I don’t know if it will help them to get millennials out of their  Scion tC’s and Golf GTi’s and into a Buick, as the ad is clearly intended to do, but it shows that someone in marketing there actually gets it.

Inspired: This Is a Generic Brand Video


This is a great parody of the corporate video we’re all trying to avoid making, but every C-level executive wants to see. It’s full of great stock footage and made by a stock footage firm to demonstrate how meaningless stock footage can be. Hmmm. Not sure about that as a business practice but it certainly is smart and funny.

Inspired: Spotify for iPad

I’ve lost count of the number of meetings I’ve been in to discus mobile product demonstration videos when I realized that the client just wanted a cheap clone of the early Apple iPhone and iPad videos. Yes, those ones with the jingly, jangly guitar and simple piano music and After Effects faked product and even phoney finger interactions. Everyone who knows nothing still wants that. I try to sell a more modern POV aesthetic with the app being present in real environments but it is a difficult sale. After all, if it’s how Apple sold a million iPhones my clients want it.

I love how this video begins with that old Apple style product video, before putting on the brakes, shifting gears and then cranking up the NOS. If you want to show your client the difference, this is the video to show them. Of course, it helps if you have Spotify’s budget for the soundtrack but it is inspiring nonetheless.

Inspired: Look Inside – Jack Andraka

INTEL “LOOK INSIDE” JACK ANDRAKA. from Dana Shaw on Vimeo.

Exactly how much story can you tell in 2 minutes? Surely it’s not enough time for time-shifted, instead of telling a simple, linear, story. Due to the time constraints you’ll have to resort to telling, not showing won’t you?

… this short from Intel’s “Look Inside” proves everything you think you know about short-form story-telling wrong. In two minutes it tells a complex story, plays with time, engages you emotionally and has amazing visuals. In fact, the majority of the story is told in 1 minute 35 seconds; the rest is Intel branding and wrapped around some supporting text and figures. It proves that you don’t have to dumb-down the message, or your approach, just to fit in the time available. If you can tell stories like this, 2 minutes is plenty of time.

Inspired: The Hoverboard is Real! (Not)

When I was a kid, in the 80’s, pictures of the future always had flying cars and jetpacks, and movies that went there had amazing tech like ghostbusting proton packs, floating land speeders and hoverboards. The hoverboard was a future re-imagining of the skateboard by the Back to the Future franchise. How cool would it be to float above the ground rather than rolling over it on noisy trucks?

Although that was intended as a hypothetical question, let me answer it anyway: “Very effing cool!” Apparently we weren’t the only ones who thought so as the Funny or Die channel cashed in on our desire to live in the future by selling the idea that Hoverboards were now real in order to make their latest videos go viral. 12 million views in a week and a day! Impressive stuff.

They got a lot of things right. First they were selling us an idea just about everyone of a certain age wanted to be true, and if you want to believe it’s true, you let yourself believe (it’s the basis upon which most religions are founded). Secondly, they weren’t cheap on the effects. Flying on wires and then rotoscoping them out is not rocket science, but they did it well and that costs money. Third: the celebrity endorsements. Having Christopher Lloyd (arriving in a DeLorean no less) to deliver the prototype; Tony Hawk demoing how it should be done; king-geek-Moby (along with other athletes and entertainment stars) showing that anyone could ride one. They had a pretty decent website for the product launch.

tony-hawk-4[1]They got so many things right, and people so wanted to believe, that many without an understanding of fundamental physics (most Americans) fell for it. There were a lot of tells if you were looking for them: the opening disclaimer “The following demonstrations are completely real” really should have been a warning. The fact that the ‘real’ hoverboard looked exactly like the original prop from the movie: movies can foreshadow tech innovations but the pulse rifle looks something like modern military weapons and the PADD from Star Trek (TNG) looks something like an iPad, not a exact precursor. If you have even a passing interest in science you’d know that there’s been no massive breakthrough in innovation to allow the hoverboard to be real, and if such a breakthrough were to happen, it’s first application would be expensive and not a toy.

Beyond the question of whether you were gullible to fall for it or not, is another, potentially more interesting question, about what were they try to sell? Funny or Dies’s rapid apology for lying about hoverboards seems less that they’re sorry for fooling millions of kids (and kids at heart) and more that they’re sorry the truth was discovered so quickly. Web speculation is that this was a marketing vehicle for a new Back to the Future movie or Tony Hawk video game. While 12 million views is not to be sneezed at, this production obviously cost something to make. Celebrities like to be involved in a funny viral video but they also like to be paid too. Someone had to foot the bill: so what were they really selling? I really wish it were hoverboards but I’m sure the truth is much more mundane.